Is my energy bill too high? What to do about overcharging
Have you ever received an unusually high energy bill? How do you know if it is correct, or if you are being overcharged?
In some cases it is obvious - this three-bedroom house that accidentally received a whopping £53,500 gas bill due to an error from a prior tenant!
Cases of such high energy bills seem to be rare, however that doesn’t mean that it could not happen to you.
Sadly, many people have opened their energy bills, to find an unpleasant surprise of their own.
There could be many reasons for this - perhaps your usage went up, or the cost of your energy increased. But what if it is because of a billing error - and if so, what should you do?
What could have caused you to get an incorrect energy bill?
A variety of issues may be the culprit - for instance, a meter reading coming from the wrong property, the wrong measurements being used in your meter reading (imperial vs metric), or even something as simple as a misplaced decimal point.
And with the rollout of smart meters occurring at the moment, it is up in the air if new issues come to the surface on improper readings.
Note: Energy UK, the trade association for UK energy industry has a “Code of Practice for Accurate Bills”, which many suppliers are signed up for. It has several guidelines for both consumers and suppliers. You can find the code, and see if your supplier is a participant here.
Is your energy bill too high? Here’s how to check if you're being overcharged
To check and see if there is an issue, the first thing you should do is compare your current meter reading to a recent bill or statement. If there is a huge discrepancy, it may mean something has gone wrong.
Thankfully, energy bills are getting easier to read.
Ofgem, the energy industry regulator, introduced new rules that mean you can clearly see the breakdown of your bill (for instance, what portion goes to paying the actual supply, vs what goes to taxes, etc). They have even created a handy video to explain energy bills.
Top tip: If something seems not quite right, compare the meter reference number (sometimes referred to as the MPR or the MPAN) on your bill, to the meter for your home, and make sure it matches.
Also, check to see if the meter number is correctly ordered - that it has the same number of digits as the reading on your bill (usually 4, 5, or 6), and the decimal (.) is in the right spot on both the bill and the meter.
If there is any discrepancy you are concerned about, it’s important that you collect some information, such as a current meter reading.
A convenient way to do this may be to snap a photo of your meter with your smartphone, which will often automatically time-date the photo.
Then, do a calculation of why you think this may be incorrect. You can use an online calculator, entering your supplier/tariff type and your usage (which is called kWh on your bill), and your postcode. From there, the calculator will give you an idea of what your costs should be.
After this, approach your supplier, and let them know why you believe the bill to be inaccurate. Ask for them to explain how they worked out your bill, and see if you can come to an agreement that an error was made.
What if your supplier claims your energy bill is accurate?
If you and your supplier can’t agree on the bill, it may be time to escalate the matter.
Thankfully there are pathways for doing so.
Make a complaint on A Spokesman Said
You can also refer to the energy Ombudsman which has resources for raising complaints against your supplier.
Consider if switching suppliers could lower your energy bills
Once the issue is resolved, it may be worth thinking about if you are overpaying on your energy bills, even when they are accurate.
Sadly, two thirds of the UK are overpaying on their energy by being on a Standard Variable Tariff (SVT).
Are you one of them?
Fortunately, overspending is easy to fix. All you need to do is a quick price comparison. By simply entering your postcode and your usage into a price comparison calculator, you could uncover great deals, and be able to make a fresh start with a new supplier.
Are you overspending on energy? See how much you could save here
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